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Proposal to cut plastic bag waste being torpedoed by group of blocking EU ministers

  • 2014. november 01. 01:00
  • Csilla

Despite strong popular support across the EU for reducing plastic waste1,  a minority of EU countries are blocking a European Parliament proposal that would drastically cut plastic bag use. The deadlock in negotiations between the EU Council of Ministers and the European Parliament is due to the UK and some of the newer EU Member States refusing to adopt any of the progressive proposals tabled by the European Parliament.

If the final three-way negotiations between the EU institutions on Friday 14 November do not produce any changes, the proposal will have to return to the drawing board and risks being discarded altogether.

The European Parliament’s proposal is to have an 80% reduction target in plastic bag use by 2019 and a requirement for shops to charge customers for plastic bags. Despite evidence from Ireland that imposing a charge is highly successful2,  the Council continues to argue that both of these decisions should be left up to national governments. The EEB sees this as a way to delay action on the issue.

Piotr Barczak, the European Environmental Bureau’s Policy Officer on Waste, said: “This basically amounts to a failure to respect either the environment or public opinion. In spite of strong backing across political groups in the Parliament for the proposal and massive popular support for reductions, certain countries in the Council persist in showing a complete disregard for the awful environmental consequences of pollution from plastic bags.

Every European uses an estimated 500 plastic bags a year on average and 92% of these are single-use. The low weight and small size of plastic bags means they often escape waste management and end up in the marine environment, where their eventual decay can take hundreds of years. 94% of all birds in the North Sea area have plastic in their stomachs.

Source: ENDS Europe

 

[1] 92% of Europeans agree that measures should be taken to reduce single plastic bag use. See European Commission press release: http://europa.eu/rapid/press-release_IP-11-580_en.htm, 30th June 2014.
[2] See: http://www.reuseit.com/facts-and-myths/the-plastax-irelands-plastic-bag-...